Duel in the Desert



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The BYU Cougars and Arizona Wildcats are joining Fiesta Bowl honchos at a banquet tonight in Tucson, part of the buildup to Monday Night's "Desert Diamond Fiesta Bowl Classic" meeting between the two teams.

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Head coaches Dave Rose and Sean Miller met the media at a press conference held earlier today at the McKale Center; you can hear the coaches' comments by clicking on their respective audio links in the "Cougar Cuts" box to the lower right.

Miller's comments have been edited to include only his BYU-related remarks, while Rose's comments are unedited, and include the Arizona-based media's "get-to-know-BYU-and Dave-Rose" questions--as a result, Rose's audio link is quite a bit longer.

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If Sean Miller were on the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee, the Cougars would be in great shape. I read in the Tucson paper last week that Miller has called BYU "the best team we will play all year."

Today, he added:

"(BYU) has all the elements that you want; great experience, great depth, very, very high basketball IQ and skill level..."

"I don't really look at (BYU) as trying to make the NCAA Tournament, I look at them... as vying for a very, very high seed... the most talented team, the best team that we have played this season, and we have played a very tough schedule."

"The respect that I have...for BYU is immense and we are going to have to play the best game we have played all season long...to have a chance to win."

"I think (Jimmer Fredette) is the best player we have played against all season...he's not a good guard, he's a great guard...we have our hands full with him...(he's) one of the best guards in college basketball."

On SDSU and UNLV, both of which have beaten Arizona this season: "I think both teams are really good... to me, BYU's better... they are deeper, more skilled and they probably have that one player that separates them from the other teams."

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As I wrote earlier in the week, if BYU doesn't crack the new Top 25 polls on Monday, the Cougars will be close. In the Coaches' Poll, BYU has a chance of sneaking in, considering:

BYU had the 31st most poll points last week; five teams ranked 12-21 lost last week (including New Mexico and UNLV), and only one ranked loser lost to a ranked team (#21 Ole Miss to #6 West Virginia). #26 (Texas A&M), #29 (St. John's) and #30 (Saint Mary's) also lost last week, so if the right teams move down far enough, BYU could make its first poll appearance of the season.

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